Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Archive for the ‘Memorable Books’ Category

housegirlTara Conklin’s House Girl is a popular book club book and appropriate for high school students. The historical fiction novel tells the story of Lina, a contemporary New York attorney working on a slavery reparation case. Through her work she discovers connections between art, a client, and a slave. As Lina begins her research she compiles a list of the slaves, making a comparison chart of the harm they received.  Several names caught my eye.

The familiar names were drawn from  Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938, an AmericanLukeTowns Memory collection of more than 2000 first-person accounts. These interviews were collected as part of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930’s. Take a look at Luke Towns, a centenarian, born in Georgia in 1835.

When I read historical fiction I am always curious about the author’s source.  These primary source interviews clearly tie in with the novel. They support the study of slavery,  inquiry, and reading/understanding/comparing informational text

Conklin cites the slave narratives and other collections  in her list of sources.  There are countless primary resources to complement The House Girl and movies such as Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 11.07.29 AM12 Years a Slave.  For starters,  The Emergence of Advertising in America collection has powerful, thought-provoking flyers from slave auctions. Voice from the Days of Slavery from the Library of Congress American Folklife Center has recorded interviews of former slaves.

Primary sources like these offer engaging learning opportunities for  classrooms. Learn how!

Images: Luke Towns selection from Born Into Slavery: Slave Narratives From the Federal Writers Project and The House Girl, p 75

BOOKCOVER_CCS

I recently participated in a discussion with a group of media specialists who met virtually to engage in some conversation with a few HS librarians who are actively teaching to the CCS with their teachers.  Sharing was facilitated by author/speaker and former school media specialist Toni Buzzeo.

School media specialists want to be involved and work with teachers, but many are overwhelmed. They want to know how to collaborate with teachers and what to do to get started.  Several shared what they are doing. Examples include focusing on standards, what resources will support them, and meeting with teachers. Others are updating media center web sites to meet new needs, aggressively updating collections, and acquiring more resources to meet the CCS informational text requirements.

Throughout our discussion I thought of how this is not that different from what we’ve long been doing– collaborating with teachers to integrate and infuse information literacy throughout the curriculum. I would apply my “work with the living” philosophy and reach out to those who are interested in trying new things and using new resources such as digital primary resources from the Library of Congress.

But, what may be familiar is not all the same.  High stakes testing and the emphasis on accountability in the classroom and media center place a greater importance on successful and educational meaningful collaboration and integration.  The CCS standards are more complex and more far-reaching than the  others.

After our discussion ended I came across The Common Core Companion: The Standards Decoded, Grades 6-8. It’s a very practical book that makes CCS very understandable.

I am impressed with this book! It clearly depicts the alignment/integration of Common Core Language arts standards in reading, science/technical subjects, speaking/listening and writing.  Many clear examples, including several involving technology are included.  The format and layout clearly shows the cross-disciplinary nature of CCS.  The easy-to-read bulleted text and generous note-taking spaces are a plus. I shared the book with a social studies teacher/future media specialist. She instantly saw its potential as a tool for her own teaching and as a PLC leader.

I examine many books as a reviewer for LMC magazine; this one stands out! Debbie Abilock said Burke’s a pro – his teaching strategies and student-focused instructions are a proactive, intelligent approach to synthesizing and integrating information while avoiding plagiarism.

 References

MigrantMother12883Most of us are familiar with Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother photograph.   The symbolic photo correctly titled of Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California is the inspiration for Mary Coin.  (Marissa Silver. Blue Rider Press, NY, 2013.)

 Silver weaves together the a fictionalized story of  Mary Coin (Thompson),  Vera Dare, a photographer modeled after Lange, and Walker Dodge, a contemporary cultural history professor in California. Dodge challenges his students to “see” photos and look beneath the layers.  The fictional characters are connected when Dodge  discovers a copy of the photo after his father’s death.

Silver’s story moves back and forth between the depression era and the present, creating a vivid and somber picture of life for migrant workers.    It is a memorable novel, worth more than 1000 words.

Lange’s photos are accessible through the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.   An overview of the Migrant mother and other photos Lange took at theTent same time has a brief account of Lange’s experience on that day.

Lange’s photography was done for the Farm Security Administration.   Many of her photos, along with others are easily accessible in Depression Era to World War II ~ FSA/OWI ~ Photographs ~ 1935-1945 an American Memory Collection of over 160,000 items and 1600 color photographs.   The Teachers Page has  related  teacher and classroom ready resources.

A Dorothea Lange archive collection is available through the Oakland Museum of California

Learn more about  challenging your students to see photos and other ideas for using primary sources in your classroom:
Teaching Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas: Using Primary Sources

Above: Migrant agricultural worker’s family. Seven hungry children.
Mother aged thirty-two. Father is native Californian. Nipomo, California

Where can I find information about. . .?      civilwarmonumnet

The First Minnesota Volunteers
Company K
Photos of Charley Goddard’s mother and brother
Charley Goddard Biography
Battle of Gettysburg primary sources
Charley Goddard letters
Charley Goddard 15 years old
Charles Goddard
Old Abe

It looks like middle level students are reading Gary Paulsen’s young adult novel Soldiers Heart; at least that’s what the search term log suggests. This post suggests resources for students and teachers who are looking for the background and historical information behind the novel. Some of these were cited in an earlier post.

Catherine Goddard SmithThe real-life Charles Goddard  lived in Winona, Minnesota, served with Company K of the 1st  Minnesota Volunteer Regiment, and fought at Gettysburg.   Regiment casualties were high and many Winona County soldiers lost their lives.  Charles survived the battle and returned to Winona.  He died in 1867 at age 24.  The Goddard family name appears often in accounts of early Winona.
Resources

What about  Old Abe?  Was he in Company K? This gallant eagle was from our neighboring State of Wisconsin, but he also served in the Battle of Gettysburg!

Photos: Civil War Memorial, Winona Veterans Memorial Park; Catherine Goddard Smith

Previous post:  Charlie Goddard and Company K

growingschoolsStaff development is an important, exciting role for school library media specialists. Media specialists have a unique perspective of the school and curriculum; they work with all learners and staff and have the expertise in technologies, literacies and information resources.

I was excited to see that Noodle Tools founder Debbie Abilock, along with co-editors Kristin Fontichiaro and Violet Harada have compiled sixteen essays by a diverse group of contributors that address both the why and practicality of the staff development role. I enjoyed the “real-life” examples, tips, and sample lessons.

This welcome book is available from Libraries Unlimited. It’s a great addition to all professional development collections and for media specialists who want to be instructional leaders and impact change. It will be a wonderful resource for me as an online educator.

A few personal real-life examples.

I‘ve always been proud that I actually new someone who was alive during the Civil War.  Earlker I  shared a photo of my great Grandpa Henry Einhorn that was published in a local newspaper.  He was born during the Civil War and lived to be 98.

Andrew Anderson, Swedish immigrant and Civil War veteran

Another great grandpa, Andrew Anderson was a Civil War Veteran.   Andrew  immigrated to The United States from Goteborg, Sweden in 1853 and farmed outside of Houston, Minnesota, in the area known as Swede Bottom.  He served during the Civil War in 1865 and died in 1881 of stomach cancer when his youngest son, my grandfather was only one.  I lived  in the area as a child; descendants of the Swedish immigrants still live in that area.   A distant relative who in Minneapolis has documented the family history through interviews, photos and digging into family primary sources.   My connections to the Civil War seem amazingly close!

I’ve learned more about Swedish immigrants by reading I Go to America  (Joy. K. Lintelman, Minnesota Historical Society Press. 2009.) which presents an interesting account of Swedish American women and focuses on the life on Mina Anderson.  Mina came to Minnesota in the 1880’s and lived in central Minnesota.  Her memoir was used by novelist Vilhelm Moberg as a resource for his series of emigrant novels.  Mina migrated  later than my ancestors, yet  her experiences reminded me of the many Swedish and Norwegian women I knew growing up.

A good place for learning more about the Swedish experience is the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.

Dala horse at the Swedish Institute. The beautiful Turnblad mansion is always fun to visit.


 

When I visited  Ford’s  theater earlier this year I learned  walking tours of downtown DC led by “Mrs. Keckely” are offered. Bummer!  I would have loved to learn more about Mrs. Keckley’s neighborhood, but  was unable to go for a tour that day.

I met Mrs. Keckley in Mrs. Keckly* and Mrs. Lincoln, a fascinating biography by Jennefir Fleischner about Mary Todd Lincoln’s friendship with Elizabeth Keckly, a former slave who was her seamstress and friend.   I searched the American Memory Collections for more information and located Mrs. Keckley’s Behind the Scenes, an early DC insider book that was also an interesting read.  Both books rank high on my memorable books list.

Resources

Behind the scenes.: By Elizabeth Keckley. Or, Thirty years a slave, and four years in the White House.
1868 Atlantic Monthly review of Behind the Scenes
The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana  A [Bookmark prospectus for three works by Willsie Morrow: With malice toward none; Forever free; and Mary Todd Lincoln.]
Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress
Object of History: The Keckley/Lincoln Dress
   A lively, fun Smithsonian teaching activity!

**Keckly is spelled without the e in the book title; both spellings appear in published works.

Share ideas for using  wonderful primary resources like these in your classroom:
Online course: Teaching with Primary Sources, Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas


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